Transitions on projects are inevitable. No matter what your role on the project, after you complete your task, it has to be reviewed or you hand it off to another member of the team. For business analysts, we’re always providing direction to someone else on what needs to get built, and while the actual task is critically important, we often forget how important it is to clearly communicate all the hard work that goes into what we are handing off.

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A good transition sets the foundation for your counterpart to be successful—better yet, a good showcase with your client sets your entire relationship on solid ground, helping to ensure the project is a success.

Transitions are like the connective tissue of a project. It’s the critical point where two groups come together for a moment to exchange information. Just like an Olympic relay team, the biggest opportunity for failure is during the hand-off from one runner to the next.

Depending on your internal processes, you might have one big hand-off where everything you’ve done for the entirety of the project is packaged up and handed off to someone else, or you could have multiple smaller hand-offs that include everything you’ve been working on for the past two weeks. Regardless of the size or frequency, it’s important to make sure that when you enter the transition, you’re clear on what you’re passing off.

Handling project transitions

It’s important to make sure that when you enter the transition, you’re clear on what you’re passing off.

The other factor that can complicate this step in the process is who you’re handing off to: the client? An internal team member? A third-party vendor?  With each of these audiences, communication is key to avoiding issues. Each audience, internal or external, provides an opportunity to showcase your work, so approach this as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle.

First, let’s take a look at how different audiences impact how to approach this transition.

Internal teams

Your internal team is not your client, but that doesn’t mean you should relax. At this point in the project, you’ve likely spent a good amount of time working on the solution and you’re proud of it (you should be – there is value in everything we produce). What better opportunity to prove your worth and showcase your value?

Beyond touting your own worth on a project, the way you communicate your work goes a long way in building trust within your organization. If you show up polished and prepared to walk through your work, the team around you takes note and its confidence in you and your work starts to rise. On the other hand, a shaky internal review allows questions and doubt to rise. Do yourself a favor and keep up the effort through the review, it will pay dividends in the end.

Clients 

Putting on a good showcase for your client during the project is just as important as the pitch before you won the business. Every opportunity with your client is an opportunity to sell them on you and your organization. Use this opportunity, no matter how small, to showcase your expertise and build their enthusiasm and confidence in you. If your work is buttoned up and your presentation is on point, the client is going to take notice and your good work will reflect back on the entire team.

Putting on a good showcase for clients during the project is just as important as the pitch that won the business.

In addition to easing concerns, this is an opportunity to ensure that everyone is aligned. Make sure your client is in lock-step with what you’re doing now and what you’re getting ready to start on. Aligning on expectations early and often makes the project go smoother for everyone involved, so help out the team and align on expectations—your project manager will thank you!

Third-Party Vendors

They might as well be clients. You’re not necessarily touting your work, but you are protecting the reputation of the organization when sharing work with external parties. Everything noted above regarding showcases with clients still applies with external parties. Realistically, your client chose you. This other agency you’re working with did not, and likely your client chose you over them for the work you’re doing.

More importantly, be clear and concise. Every organization has its own culture, jargon, and set of norms that affect the way they conduct business. If you’re not careful, you’ll fall into a gray area where you thought one thing, the vendor thought something else, and what got built doesn’t match your clients’ expectations. Now your client is not happy and has to point the finger at someone. That’s not a good place to be.

Keeping your audience in mind, here are some tactics to help make your next transition a little smoother.

Review what is being handed off

Just because a project is crystal clear in your mind, doesn’t mean it’s easy for someone else to digest.

Just because it’s crystal clear in your mind, doesn’t mean it’s easy for someone else to digest. Take a few minutes, at minimum, and provide an overview of how your document has been laid out, what’s included, and what’s not included. If you’re only handing off a piece of the whole project, make sure you state that at some point.

If you don’t, you’ll likely get a lot of questions asking where is everything else. And if you are handing off to a vendor or other third-party, it’s critical to make sure you’re all aligned and speaking the same language. Your acronyms and internal jargon might be drastically different from theirs. Make sure you’re clear on what you’re handing off.

Leave time for questions

Questions are good, it means they’re paying attention! Your review of the material may be spot on, but some of the best knowledge transfer comes through dialogue, so leave time to have a conversation about the work.

Provide a Recap

Your project manager is going to ask you to send over your material anyway, so beat them to the punch and provide a recap of everything you reviewed before you’re asked to do it.

Make yourself available

Ensure that when the meeting is over, you’re not going to disappear.

Make sure that when the meeting is over, you’re not going to disappear. This is more of a good faith effort, but it continues to build trust. It’s even more important when working with groups outside of your organization. It’s likely implied that you can be tracked down if needed, but coming out and saying how you can be reached and that you’re willing to answer questions is a big effort in trying to make the project successful. Avoid coming off as, “I did my part, now go do yours.” Instead, let everyone know you’re happy to answer questions or talk though anything, you might be surprised at the reaction.

Remember, the transition is a time to showcase your work, highlight the complexities (or the simple elegance in our solutions!) and tout your great work. It’s another opportunity to create some value on your project, whether an internal hand-off, client showcase, or transition with a third party, so take advantage.

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